What if You Had One Week to Live? I did.

I don’t like the phrases “live like there’s no tomorrow”, “live like you’re dying,” or “what if you had one week to live?”

This is a very matter of fact depiction that I wrote while I couldn’t sleep. It’s purely to request you to think deeper about the previously mentioned phrases, and not a current mental or physical state. Rather, a perspective from an insider. Be warned, It’s long, riddled with errors, and the context also changes frequently, my grammar fanatics.

This is coming from someone who (several years ago now) truly believed that their life was coming to a near end due to health related issues.

None of my doctors were optimistic about my chances for survival, and I believed them.

The problem with believing that’s there’s no tomorrow is that we fail to take into account that there are consequences for our actions. We perpetually minimize things that have a major impact on us long-term, and don’t take into account the repercussions that will arise from rash indiscretions.

Sure, I understand what the concepts are trying to portray. “Seize the Day.” I understand that the message is supposed to be, “Tell people you love them, take chances, follow your dreams, spend time with your kids, etc.” However, when you believe you’re dying or that there’s no tomorrow (or at best very few of them), those are not the actions that I found myself making.

What I found during that time was that most people I interacted with had little concept of what it actually felt like to live this way. I lived in the parallel universe that no one seemingly made sense to me, and I beyond baffled everyone I came in contact with. Consequences didn’t matter to me anymore, because I wouldn’t have to live through them.

So, in that aspect I’ll give you a brief summary of what it was like for me to live as a person who was dying and the thought of no tomorrow.

Romance

I didn’t date seriously. A lot, but not seriously. I wouldn’t let anyone get close to me. I avoided new legitimate relationships. After all, how do you answer the question: “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” How could you seriously allow someone to become emotionally attached to you knowing there’s nothing in store for them but heart ache?

Friendships

I like to think that I was just unlucky with picking my friends, and that most humans don’t interact this way. However, if you are ill long-term you will more than likely lose most of your friends. (At least in my experience). You slowly start declining more and more invitations for social activities. You cease to invite people over/out. You fade away. You need more and give less. And to be completely honest you’re boring and depressing, which most people don’t tend to seek out. You get questions like: “How’s it going?” You either lie – “great!” Or you tell the truth “well, I can’t get in and out of the tub anymore. It’s too hard for my to stand long enough to shower, so I’m using a lot more baby wipes” or “I’ve lost 12 pounds this week, because I can’t keep food down.” You begin let go of people that you care about.

Work

If you’re even still healthy enough to work. I was unfortunately not in a financial situation to be able to take off work. I was a single adult who still had too many bills to pay (plus new ones with all of the medical expenses). I no longer tried to improve my quality of workmanship. I couldn’t afford to put any further energy in increasing my skill set. It took all I had just to get out of bed each day. Impressing people no longer mattered. I had to be driven to work, because I became too weak to drive myself. My quality of work rapidly declined. What was the point?

Health and Wellness

Many of the health trends are due to us wanting to live long and healthy lives. If you know you’re dying, then why not? I was sleeping on average 18-20 hours per day. You’re too sick to want to expend the energy on exercising (in fact walking across the room, is enough to make you need to take a nap). I couldn’t stand long enough to cook anything, which I had loved cooking and baking. My diet became a menagerie of fast food, delivery, high sugar and caffeine (for energy), alcohol for the pain. **Alcohol was a major contraindication for my medicines, but what was it going to do? Kill me?. I had also tried approx 10 different pain medications for my severe pain, most of which caused horrible reactions. (Rashes, edema, panic attacks, etc) Tylenol even put me in the ER** (If you know me now, my diet is very strict and I still get teased for not consuming alcohol.)

Finances

So, what happens when your lease is up when you know you won’t live another year? If you don’t renew what about your stuff? Should you put it in a storage unit? Money was way too thin to justify it anyway. I gave away almost all my furniture, clothing, and home goods. I was too sick to move it, and what did I need it for anyway?

I didn’t file my taxes. Come rob my grave, IRS. I stopped paying a lot of my bills. Were my student loan companies going to come repo my diploma? I was already choosing between medicine and food. One prescription was $1000/mo. Obviously any kind of saving was out of the question.

Healthcare

I didn’t go to the dentist, the eye doctor, my OBGYN, regular doctor for check-ups, etc. why? Anything seriously wrong with any of those departments would take years to manifest, and I had months at best.

What I can say positively is that I suffered from depression prior to these events, and I can also say that it honestly cured it. I have previously tried to recount these concepts for people who claim I was just depressed and had given up. Quite the opposite. It cured my depression and I fought every day to see the next one. I just had to pick my battles, and I found I could fight fewer and fewer as my health declined.

Why anyone would want to live like they were dying is beyond me. It only proves that the ones who state these ideas have no concept of what it’s really like. My overall trend was “what’s the point?” Especially while I was already spread so thin on just trying to survive one more minute.

Advice

What I believe is that we should live as if we have our whole lives ahead of us. We should act and build now. So that we can have as long as possible to reap what we’ve sown. Build something beautiful that you can love and share with others. Save money. Travel. Splurge on loved ones. Put your toes in the sand (even if you don’t like the beach – get an umbrella). Go camping (even if you don’t like bugs – get a cabin). Go to a foreign speaking country, and feel what it’s like to be an outsider. Do things that scare you (parasailing… Absolutely terrified me!) Try things you don’t think you’re capable of. Don’t stay where you’re not appreciated. Give up when you can’t make a difference, so that you can find where you do. Avoid debt as much as possible. Support people’s passions. Help those during their trying times. Most of all never live like you’re dying, because there’s always a point.

The Story of Babydoll, the Little Chicken That Could

Most of us eat chicken but are so removed from our food that we don’t consider the actual life that gave us the meal. Meanwhile, upon starting a backyard flock of my own I’ve realized more and more about how important it is to treat your living food well. Happy chickens, chickens treated well with adequate space, food, affection and adventures, in my experience, have better tasting eggs. Their eggs are creamy and dark, full of nutrients factory hens are lacking.

So upon my quest to learn about all things chicken I decided, or my hen decided rather, that it was time to try our hand at hatching eggs. You girls are what, a year old now?

It happened to be my youngest hen, Macaron, that decided to go broody. Broody means she decided to steal everyone’s eggs and sit on them until they hatch. (They weren’t going to hatch.) She didn’t even have a rooster in her flock. Can you imagine? I thought about never being with a man and suddenly deciding I would have a baby anyway, any day now. She tickled me. I admired her persistence. Against the advice of my breeder I got her some eggs to sit on. Some blue ameraucana eggs and a few silkie eggs as well.

Now, to understand why someone would be against hatching chicks with a hen you have to understand a bit about chickens. These days, chickens have been bred more for looks or for egg production (or meat, gasp). Mothering instincts have not been prized by many breeders. If you’re a good mother but your feather quality is crap then you’re not going to be bred. Chances are a chicken aficionado won’t be buying a hen based on possible mothering skills. Many farmers and chicken hobbyists alike use incubators because it’s just easier for them. You don’t have to wait on a broody hen to possibly hatch chicks when you can hatch them year-round on your own.

I had faith in my Macaron. I knew she was head strong. So she sat. She didn’t give up. She got up to eat, drink and poop once a day and sat the rest. She sat during the lightening storms, she sat during the humidity.

“My only hen that was able to actually hatch chicks ate them as soon as they hatched — are you sure you’re ready for that?”

I just had to let her try. If I didn’t, I’d never know. If she failed we’d just assume hatching wasn’t our flock’s strong point. I candled the eggs (with a flashlight) at around seven days, on Mother’s Day to be exact, and each egg had veins.

Twenty days later a pip. A small beak poked through a blue ameraucana egg. I’m a little fearful my mother hen will eat it. She has to be really hungry and irritated by now, right? Possibly little case of cabin fever? I left for the day and when I came back a tiny chick emerged from underneath her fluff. She did it. I was as shocked as she was. She thought the chick’s toes were worms. She tried to snag them. I got a little worried. However she quickly realized they weren’t worms, much to her disappointment.

The next morning all but 1 had hatched. The tiniest silkie egg. Too tiny to have a yolk? I thought it had veins but perhaps I was wrong. Oh well. Nine out of 10 is pretty good for our experiment.

Macaron was so pleased, she really seemed proud. I realize have a serious issue with anthropomorphizing animals but I could tell she was living out her dream. She protected the chicks as she did the eggs but the excitement caused her to chase them all around. She let me hold them and pet her, she was done being aggressive and puffed up. Her feathers relaxed. The poor girl was already tired but now she was also exhausted and frantic.

Later that afternoon the small egg’s pip was larger. I saw the little blue beak take a breath and I snapped a photo.

I checked that evening around 6 o’clock and the egg had been partially smashed. It was bloody (I’ll save you that photo, it’s terrifying). The small chick lay curled up within half of it. I felt scared but left it with her. She must know better about hatching chicks than I. A few hours later the chick was pushed away into the nest bedding and cold. So small and lifeless. Curled like a baby robin. Looked much too small to be a chicken, to survive, to thrive. All the other chicks raced around and peeped. Happy and strong. I took the chick into my hands. I held it close, assuming it was dead, and it peeped. A small peep. As though to say, “I’m still here.”

I snapped a photo for a chicken advice forum and went inside to tell my husband the sad story. I set up a makeshift brooder with a clip-on light bulb and made sure it was warm. It laid there all evening. It started to dry but didn’t open it’s eyes. I noticed it was white, the only white chick.

Hours later it rolled over on it’s back. Dead? Maybe. I rolled it back over and let it rest. Chicks absorb their yolk the last few days in the egg so they don’t need to eat much, if any, for a couple of days after hatching. This was only a time for rest.

The chicken forums flood with advice, with concerns, with questions. People contacted me from all over the world to see the chick, to hear how she’s doing. I’m shocked at so much interest in a tiny hatchling. I feel grateful to be a part of a community like that.

The next morning I dreaded going downstairs. I knew I’d look in the shower and it would be hard and lifeless in the brooder. I heard my husband exercising in the living room. I assumed he would notify me of the terrible news. I dreaded walking down the stairs and hearing him say my name. It’s just a chick, you tried as hard as you could. It wasn’t meant to live anyway. The mother hen knew it was a waste of time. It was probably sick or something. It’s such a tiny, disposable animal. It’s absolutely ridiculous to feel sad about it.

She lived. I don’t know that she is a she but I’m calling her Baby. It’s more of a pet name than an actual name. I’m afraid to name her because I’m afraid to get attached. It’s still touch and go. However she is alive. Surviving any of that is a good sign.

Baby’s legs don’t work. She seems to have what is referred to as “spraddle” legs. They stick out and she can’t walk. Makes it hard to eat or do much of anything. I research a treatment and create a small brace with yarn and medical tape. She stands. She’s wobbly and weak. She passes out flat anytime she wakes up for a few seconds. I feed her some water with honey from a cotton swab. She drinks it. I continue to feed her this every few hours for energy. She starts to wobble around trying to walk.

I feed her some scrambled egg and she tries to eat it. She tries to eat chick starter and can’t. Her little weak beak can hardly eat anything but honey water. I bring her a chick friend and it’s a disaster. It runs over her and she has no energy to compete. I let her stay alone a little longer. I keep dipping her beak in water every few hours. I’m her mother hen so I have to teach her how to do everything, even drink. My husband and I hold her in our hands, against our torsos while we watch tv in the evenings. She cries loudly when we put her back in the brooder.

This is the second evening I’ve spent with Baby. I feed her some egg and she eats it. She eats a big piece and gulps it down like the large hens eat whole cherry tomatoes. I feel excited. I know if she can start to eat she’ll make it.

The third day I wake up to Baby walking around with her brace like she’s been doing it for days. She leaps and races around. She speeds really fast and then wobbles about trying to stop. She’s like a bumper car without breaks. She’s headstrong and ready to go but not so sure about how to stop. She ends up in the water dish several times and I have to rework things. I cannot imagine finding her having drowned because she couldn’t walk very well. I would feel so terrible to come this far and lose her over a silly mistake.

See the leg brace?

Today I decide I’ll try again to increase her attention by bringing her some silkie friends from Macaron’s brood. They all spend hours crying for their mom. I feel terrible about them leaving the flock but know that Baby needs some friends besides me. She needs other chickens. They start to settle down and connect with each other… I feed them egg and chick starter and they begin racing around chasing each other. Just like the hens. Baby is now accepted and can hold her own in the group. They were all hatched on the same day and she is half their size but her spirit is triple.

Because of the interest in adopting the healthy chicks, Baby’s nursery has taken in a new bearded blue cream silkie chick whom was the odd one out of her own brood. Baby has accepted her as her long lost sister. My oldest daughter named her Lil Debbie. They both stayed inside with me for another several weeks because Baby was too small to hold her own with the large fowl chicks. In a large group the very small and disabled chicks often don’t get enough to eat or get smooshed in the huddle. I don’t want to take a chance until she’s a few weeks older and much stronger. If I ever take a chance before she grows up, that is.

After about a week I was notified about a young cockerel (rooster). He had an odd coloring but was an English Orpington like my other big girls. I’d been considering a rooster to protect my ladies and to maybe have a couple of chicks that are all of our own blood line. I couldn’t imagine how cute they would be! So I took him in. He was about 6 weeks old. Much bugger than the silkies. I was told he would smoosh them or hurt them so I put him with the big ladies. They bloodied his comb and I couldn’t bear it. I put him with the silkies. I was terrified so I kept watch. They all snuggled and he became the mom. I was shocked! I set them in the main coop after a few weeks (much too long I’m sure) and put blinders on the hens so they wouldn’t hurt him. He put the other hens in line and established his dominance. Would he change? Some roosters become very mean when they go through puberty. However, he still cared for the little ones. Even today they’re all grown up and if I toss good treats he runs and carries them to the two silkies we kept (Baby and Lil Debbie) and they sleep under his wing.

Baby has taught me a lot about raising chickens that I never would have known even having raised a flock prior to this. She has taught me a lot about myself, too. She’s shown me that even when everything seems to be going wrong or my health seems to be deteriorating that it’s always worth the fight to stay positive. That having such a beautiful, strong spirit is the biggest asset. That even if you’re struggling you can always give of yourself to others because everyone is struggling in some way.

Baby has taught me that we all have 2 choices: We can stay strong in the face of adversity, turmoil and sickness or we can fall, stay weak and remain afraid. We can essentially be our own undoing by accepting that we are a failure. I choose to fight, don’t you?

What’s so great about chickens anyway? Even their name is used as an insult — it’s a common way to call someone out for being a coward. Meanwhile Baby, the tiniest chicken, has one of the strongest spirits I’ve ever experienced. How’s that for a chicken?

The Low FODMAP Diet Helps With Bloating

FODMAP diet

First of all, I’m sure we can agree that diet fads are usually lame. They have little to no health benefit other than the diet-marketers making money and you being attracted with unrealistic body expectations and weight loss dreams. However this diet is not about losing weight.. it is a diet specifically helpful for those who struggle with painful bloating, IBS, sensitive stomachs, prior intestinal surgeries (ding ding!!) and other digestive issues.

After my emergency surgery in October of 2014 I couldn’t eat most things… my small intestine was healing and painful. However because of this, when I was physically able, I had an urge to eat EVERYTHING. I ate ate ate and especially loved sugar and carbs. I have a serious sweet tooth. My tummy did not like this.. it was more sensitive than ever and it began to look like I had a beach ball under my shirt, even more so around “that time of the month”. My whole body was relatively thin other than this big bloat! I even had people asking if I was pregnant AND touching my belly when I was out.. how embarrassingly terrible!

So my doctor had given me this diet and at the time I was just not interested. I didn’t have hope my stomach could change after this intestinal resection. I tried the medication and it worked a little bit but not to the extent I was hoping to relieve of this bloating and pain. After trying to do things my own way I finally realized I MUST try this diet regardless of how hard it would be. After that, I noticed a gradual change even within a week. I would wake up and my stomach would be flat, no bloat. I would go through the day and although it was hard to avoid bread and cake I continued to feel like I was not struggling with bloat! Hurray! Not only that but with increase in low fodmap foods I have been losing the extra weight I put on when I was eating unhealthily. I attribute this to eating healthier and exercising.. which are the only things anyone should be doing to get in shape. Starving yourself, trying fad diet pills, etc are likely just quick fixes and are not improving your health!

So what do you eat (and avoid) on the low fodmap diet?

FODMAP List

Oligiosaccharides

Avoid: Garlic, onions, wheat, leeks, nectarines, barley, rye, lentils, pistachios, kidney beans, chickpeas, broccoli
Eat: Quinoa, rice, corn, potato, buckwheat, eggplant, squash, pumpkin, bok choy, cucumbers, endive, tomato, zucchini, gluten-free products

Lactose (Disaccharide)

Avoid: Milk, cottage cheese, ice cream, yogurt, sour cream
Eat: Feta, cheddar cheese, parmesan, lactose-free dairy (or lactaid), almond milk (ensure inulin is not added ingredient), plain lactose-free yogurt

Fructose (Monosaccharide)

Avoid: High-fructose fruits and foods like apples, mangos, honey, asparagus, pears
Eat: More evenly distributed fructose/sucrose fruits like bananas, blueberries, kiwi, raspberries, strawberries

Polyols

Avoid: Avocado, mushrooms, cauliflower, prunes, peach, cherries, blackberries, sugar alcohols (often in candy like: xylitol, sorbitol), molasses, watermelon
Eat: Honey dew, cantaloupe, raspberries, stevia, white or raw sugar (limited), pure maple syrup

Many of these foods should not be completely excluded, as they can be good for you if you’re not sensitive to them. On a low-FODMAP diet you aren’t eliminating these different types of carbohydrates completely—just reducing them — so if you slip-up it’s not the end of the world, keep going.

Some Go-To Recipes

Because the rest of my family is not really low-fodmap and eats bread, noodles, fruits and veggies that are high fodmaps.. I get major cravings. Some things I can make for them that they don’t mind: fried chicken with corn flakes vs crackers, noodles with rice noodles, homemade pickles (remember garlic and onion are very bad for fodmappers and that stinks!!). As usual my recipes are not exact measurements because that’s how I cook (by sight and feel).

Grilled Cheese Quesadilla

  • Corn (gluten free) Tortilla
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Tomato (love grilled cheese with tomato!)
  • Dollop of non or low lactose plain yogurt on top
  • Directions
    Place the tortilla in a greased pan or on griddle that’s on medium heat. Put some shredded cheese on top and when it melts place a slice of tomato on top, fold in half, top with a dollop of yogurt.

Fried Chicken

  • Corn flakes
  • Bit of Corn Starch or Tapioca Starch
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Egg
  • Thawed Chicken
  • Directions
    Oil for frying (olive oil + bacon grease for flavor!)
    Heat oil to high heat, dip chicken into beaten eggs and then into crushed corn flakes mixture (with corn starch and salt & pepper). Turn chicken when browned. Remove when internal temp is at least 345 degrees Fahrenheit.

French Toast

  • Gluten free white bread
  • Splash of Lactaid Milk
  • Egg
  • Vanilla
  • Cinnamon
  • Maple Syrup (actual maple syrup, not the sugary brands of syrup)
  • Directions
    Dip bread into the milk, eggs and vanilla. Heat in greased pan or on griddle until lightly browned on each side. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Top with a bit of maple syrup.

Snacks

  • Rice cakes + peanut butter (check ingredients!) + banana slices
  • Plain potato chips (you can haz!!)
  • GH Cretors Chicago Mix (a serving takes care of sugary cheesy cravings!)
  • Corn chips + cheddar cheese + jalapeños + oven/microwave to melt cheese + no/low lactose dollop of yogurt
  • Banana + lactose free vanilla yogurt + sprinkles of raw sugar + thin popsicle stick + freeze for 1 hour = banana pop (my kids LOVE these)
  • String cheese stick
  • WOW Baking Co Lemon Burst Wheat & Gluten Free Cookies
    These cookies have no high FODMAPs! They also make other flavors but the only ones that might be ok are Snickerdoodle and Peanut Butter however I haven’t checked them!
  • Snack Stops: Target, Fresh Market and Whole Foods have a bunch of snacks made for those of us on restrictive diets if you look around and check ingredients! Gluten and dairy free have been more and more accepted in other grocery stores, as well.
  • Peppermint and Ginger teas (if you sweeten use white or raw sugar, not honey) are always a good idea for your tummy!

bagged-lemon-burst GH CRETORS CHICAGO MIX yellow gluten free cake mix

Those should give you a few ideas! For instance you can fry eggplant for eggplant parm with the same mixture as the chicken above but remember to make your own tomato sauce because garlic and onion are in most or all tomato sauces! You can also substitute spaghetti noodles for rice noodles (MAI FUN).

As you see above, I found a new favorite dessert/snack food that doesn’t cause me bloating and doesn’t have any major offenders in it: GH Cretors Chicago Mix! This is really a treat because most candy popcorns I found had at least one big bloat-inducer or just left me feeling those same bloated feelings. It takes care of all of the cravings in one bag.

More Tips

Differing Information

You might notice after exploring low FODMAP food lists that many different doctors and people disagree on foods. I find the best thing is to check Monash University‘s app list then to read about the ingredients myself if I’m not sure in a store. It takes some getting used to and it’s confusing and tough at first but it starts to make sense soon! It’s easier when you’re going and getting more accustomed to listening to your body (belly) and what things bother YOU!

Spices

Beware of SPICES! Although all spices except for garlic and onion are fine many spice mixes (including yellow curry!) have onion and garlic IN them. This includes broths. These two flavorful guys taste SO GOOD but cause me a lot of discomfort especially on this diet.. I notice very quickly if they are in something after I’ve cut FODMAPs down/out. So be sure to look out for them. Green onions (scallions) and chives are safe if only the green tops are used and they’re used minimally. So your cherished fried rice and noodles can survive as long as you skip the bulbed onions and garlic!

How Long?

If you decide you do want to adopt a low FODMAP diet, it’s best to talk to your doctor first. If you can, try to commit to the diet for at least a month before you determine if it’s beneficial for you and your digestive system. It’s best to keep a journal (I have one on my phone so I can always easily write notes about foods) along the way to document changes and reactions to foods. I find even low FODMAP foods can give me bloating and some high FODMAP foods won’t! It’s a good idea to keep it handy.

Introducing FODMAP Foods

Also after you try the diet for a month you can start to introduce new foods you used to love by eating one a day or so and see how they affect you. You might be skipping on something that you find you can eat with little discomfort.

FODMAP Friendly Sites

If you decide to try the diet, let me know your experience and if you need support! I’ll be sure to update about my journey more in the future. xo

Expand Your Brand with Miseducated

brand-marketing

You might have noticed in the last several months I’ve been seamlessly combining my portfolio and marketing work with my blog here at Miseducated. This is due to the fact I needed to expand my business hosting account so I decided to combine my efforts and enhance my brand. In a part I can now equally focus on expanding the agency for work as well as continue blogging passion. Below you’ll find a press release of sorts with advice for those looking to expand their brand, build an online presence, and acquire new client attraction.

Miseducated is not just a blog but is also a boutique marketing agency that creates attractive business promotions, attractive brands, and premium web sites. With over 15 years of web design and social media marketing expertise; I understand effective design.

Miseducated offers you innovative and attractive design, captivating imagery and gold-woven copy combined with compelling offers and strategic promotional methods to bring you new client attraction and more attention from loyal clients. If you provide a product or service, I will teach you how to be the next big thing and provide you with a competitive advantage in your marketplace.

Many companies mistakenly implement a fundamental brand and website to save on operating and marketing costs. These website design efforts range from adequate to amateur (from drag and drop to friends and family help) ultimately sacrificing the polished online presence necessary to stand out in a crowd. As you know the field of design is a competitive business with many amateurs claiming they know design and marketing strategies, but when it comes down to it most are not able to deliver.

Business owners upon hiring an unqualified agency or designer soon realize novice web design efforts result in amateur results. They discover the site is not providing a competitive advantage, not attracting new clients, and that their site is similar to thousands of others – a total red flag in all business.

How can you avoid this problem? When hiring a brand designer or marketing agency you should be served with an initial consultation as well as a roadmap that outlines the specific actions you and your company will take to out-maneuver peers for needed resources and client retention. There should be measurable goals within the plan so you can be sure your new design and marketing strategy are serving your company as planned and moving your organization forward. A professional can translate the essence of your unique business into a savvy, engaging website and online brand.

In short, The right website will show off your business and allows you to reach out to new customers and stay in touch with current ones. So, ask yourself today, if your website is a true reflection of your business then what is your website reflecting about your brand?

Look in my design portfolio here for some examples of marketing design.

spyceweb

lookbook2-1

cta-wide

She’s Too Pretty to Have No Curves, Curves, Scars, Curls

beautiful

There’s a pet peeve I have that I feel is a prevalent issue in our society and yet I see little to no articles around the specific flavor of it while cruising through Google and the blogosphere… I’m hoping I just missed them but regardless, I must write. I’m referring to how, “She’s too pretty to… *insert visual ailment or critique here*”, or “She would look better if…” My parents told me as a child that I was beautiful. However as I got older (into the grade school years) I began hearing comments, like most girls do, about how I shouldn’t wear wrinkled clothes, how I shouldn’t eat too much sweets or gain weight, how I should brush my hair, how I should take care of my skin, how I should appear in public. All slightly caring things.. but they soon started to get worse and much more critical.

You see, as most (if not all) women get older, the comments get WORSE. Much, much worse and what’s even more tough is they are generally coming from your peers and people whom you respect. People whom you want to like and accept you.

“Why is your face cracking?”, asked a first-grade classmate, referring to my slight spider veins. After which telling the entire class how scary my face was and many of my friends turning around and laughing at me. My face wasn’t cracking… my heart was.

womenquote

As you start to near and/or go through puberty as a young woman you can be sure things will again take a change for the worst. Suddenly you are not just a child anymore, suddenly you are expected to be whatever form of beautiful the person criticizing you appreciates. Suddenly if you’re eating too much dessert you’re going to get too fat to have any friends. If you’re growing too fast you’re going to look like a promiscuous 11-year-old that is unknowingly asking for attention from boys and men. If you’re growing too slow you’re going to earn songs of mockery about how your chest is flat. Blatant critiques about how your hair is too short, too long, too flat, too full. About how your skin is too pale or too dark. About how your legs are too short or too wide. About your body hair is too dark, too thick or too long. Never mind how different each of us are, how she might have vitiligo but you have a scar; she has spider veins but you have dark body hair; she might have acne but you have curly hair; how she has thick thighs while yours are “chicken legs.” Why isn’t a girl pretty BECAUSE she’s unique? Because of her freckles? Because of her scar? Because of her skin coloration? Because of her texture of hair? Because of her build? Why do we all have to fit a mold of whatever is deemed attractive when we don’t even want to? When we don’t even agree? When we want to be ourselves? When everyone should adore us for our unique, visual features?

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The worst of all these critiques start coming from your friends as a pubescent girl and from other girls. Girls begin to lose sight of lifting each other up and being strong together and instead choose to tear each other down and gain “status.” They begin to believe if they tear her down for her hair then they’ll feel better about their own. The walls between women begin to be built. In a personal example I remember being teased incessantly in 6th grade at age 11 because I hadn’t developed breasts yet and my classmates had began to. Then when I arrived at school after summer break ready to start 7th grade (with breasts) I was suddenly attacked by all of my friends for stuffing my bra. When I showed them I didn’t stuff my bra in gym class I was teased for trying to seduce them and labeled a lesbian. When I avoided guys I was a “lesbian” but when I had guy friends I was “slutty.” I hadn’t even began to date at the age of 13 and already I was labeled with just about every female-based insult you could come up with. By other girls. By my “friends.”

Why are girls taught to do this to each other? Why do we continue to do it in new and more covert ways as we age?

I began to get comfortable with myself in college and I just avoided people who openly judged me by my appearance. I gained my freshman 30 pounds and my clothes stopped fitting and I felt happy. In all of the photos of that period I’m smiling from my heart. I’m with my friends whom accept me regardless of my size, regardless if I lost 40 pounds the following year or gained another 30, friends I still have to this day. I felt accepted and happy in a positive community of supportive women.

Years later, in graduate school, came the body-shaming to a degree I realized I had only tasted in middle school.

Lately there has been a lot of social media popping up about fat-shaming, about curvy hash tags and models with figures of a larger clothing size, about disgusting comedians who insult a whole selection of people based on size. About how companies don’t have “real women” as models and how companies that use non-models showing their natural, naked bodies in a tasteful way get sued for “pornographic material.” About how bikini’s look on voluptuous, “real women” vs thin, fake ones.

It reminded me of being the only “skinny” girl in my graduate class.. about being teased about my clothing not fitting my body right, about my saving my food/dessert to eat at home because I must be “anorexic”, about how men don’t like bones cracking together and they want a “real woman” to hold onto. About how I’m not a real woman. About how I don’t have large breasts and therefor am a child, not a woman. Now I understand these women must have had prior experiences of being treated in a similar way or they probably wouldn’t be doing it to me but why are we so happy to pass on the shaming to each other? The teasing got worse and worse every late night we worked together on our project. Why wasn’t I eating enough? Do I need a hamburger? They will THROW a hamburger at me if I’ll eat it! I’m 22 and I don’t even have cleavage! What’s my issue with food? Am I not eating enough? Do I buy my clothes in the toddler section? I look unhealthy! I decided not to go back the next semester. My anxiety had grown to an all-time high for many reasons but I felt it getting worse just being around those two, strong-willed women who couldn’t accept me because of my size.

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This was in 2008 and although many things have changed since then.. one thing hasn’t. Women are still building walls in between each other that weren’t even theirs to build. Whatever current, boring beauty standard seems like the truth is only a lie and an opportunity to further pull each other down. Don’t even get me started on the current great makeup debate about how we should wear makeup, shouldn’t wear makeup or how we must be insecure liars if we do, too masculine if we don’t. Or how if we wear colorful, revealing or tight clothes we must be asking for attention from everyone. When really we shouldn’t have to force ourselves to fit within anyone else’s mold of beauty and we certainly can’t expect push our sisters into that mold with us if we try. We are women, we must stick together and protect our beautiful spirits. When women encourage each other amazing things happen.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again.. with all of these debates going around describing what “real women” do or do not look like, act like, have or are.. Real women have HEARTS. We’re all real women.

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Current Events

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Toronto police officer told a crowd of college women that if they wanted to avoid sexual assault, they shouldn’t dress like sluts.

Amber Rose Slut Walk LA

Lipstick feminism is a movement that attempts to dislodge the idea that traditional ideas of femininity undermine women. This movement encourages women to embrace things like makeup and feminine clothing, including revealing clothing, in order to show that having qualities that are defined as female does not make one inferior.

– Shaming women for makeup a destructive, anti-feminist approach, The Collegian

Instead, can we all just agree that we’re all uniquely perfect in our own way? Can we just start celebrating ourselves for who we are and not be so caught up in the competition?

– Curvy vs. Skinny: Let’s End the Women’s Weight War Once and for All, The Huffington Post